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Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the United States has recorded more than 7.6 million cases of COVID-19 and 213,000 deaths.

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LAS CRUCES – Gadsden Independent School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously decided to keep all students online for the remainder of the fall semester during Thursday’s board meeting after noting a recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the district.

The decision also came days after the death of Leo Lugo, a special education teacher at Chaparral High, who had been infected by the disease.

GISD Superintendent Travis Dempsey presented an update on COVID-19 in the district, revealing that there are 44 employees currently self-quarantining, there have been 22 positive cases since July 1, and there have been three employees hospitalized due to symptoms.

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A sign at Gadsden Elementary School on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, encourages students to “Log on in!” (Photo: Nathan J Fish/Sun-News)

The school district had previously prepared for the return of their students in special education on Oct. 19, but Dempsey and the special education staff members found the concern of risk of possible exposure to students and them if they would have returned.

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Leo Lugo, a special education teacher at Chaparral High School, died Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, because of the coronavirus. (Photo: Courtesy)

“Special educations staff are truly dedicated to their students,” Dempsey said in a news release. “They want them back but in a safe manner. They are concerned for the students health and theirs.”

Lugo, 56, passed away Monday.

Bertha Lugo said her brother-in-law had gone to the school to prepare his classroom before he knew he had the virus in September.

“If he knew he was sick, he wouldn’t have gone to work. He was very diligent on disinfecting, wearing masks and gloves. He took the measures necessary,” she told the El Paso Times.

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